On cricket

There have been a whole lot of posts around the internet about the predicament facing the Australian Cricket Team. Australia’s pre-eminent cultural institution. I have, until now, resisted throwing in my two cents. 

Much has been made over the departure of past heroes. The Gilchrists, Warnes, McGraths and now Haydens of this world are irreplacable. What makes me sad is that Australia has arguably the strongest domestic competition worldwide with imports kept to a minimum (they’re pretty much non existant – unlike county cricket in England) and young players being developed through government funded programs.

We really should be doing better at bringing young players into the national fold. Michael Hussey should have been in the national team years before the selectors got the balls to pick him. Same goes for Phil Jacques. Brad Hodge must surely feel like the unluckiest man in Australian cricket. Simon Katich has done what few have managed to do and resurrected his career from selector induced oblivion. 

Australia is blooding players too late. Debutants are often aged over 30 (eg 36 going on 37 year old spinner Bryce McGain) and longevity isn’t a possibility. Longevity and tenure has also been a problem. Half of these players retiring now are players I’ve watched my entire cricket watching life. The selectors need to be a little bold and courageous. Tenure needs to be an attitude of the past. Domestic players need to feel like they’ve got a real chance of breaking into the test team on the basis of performance. Underperforming veterans should be axed. We can’t afford to be sentimental about selections – any more than we are when voting for politicians. If there’s a better option there they need to be in the team.  

Michael Clarke’s decision to forego the big bucks in India to have some rest and focus on his international career is laudable. It’s a pattern that needs to be established on a wider level. Australian cricket will not survive at a test and 50 overs level if IPL dollars are the holy grail for up and coming cricketers.

Ricky Ponting is a terrible captain, but a terrific batsmen. This presents a terrible problem. How do you remove the captaincy mantle without slapping him in the face and having some effect on his batting.

That’s the batting side of things covered – our bowlers are in dire straits. They can not take a wicket. The lower echelons seem incapable of doing any better. We’ve seen about 6 no name players make inauspicious debuts this season. Who’d ever heard of Bollinger, Siddle or Hilfenhaus before they got a crack? And don’t get me started on spinners. How can there be such a scarcity of bowlers in the ranks? The quest for the perfect one day all rounder because of England’s ashes triumph on the back of Andy Flintoff has filtered down to the state level. Other than those players who made their test debuts this year can anyone name a bowler at state level? Didn’t think so.  How is Nathan Bracken, rated the world’s best one day player because of his economy rate, not suitable for a test berth? 

I also blame 20/20 cricket for the downfall.  But that’s another post for another time. End of rant.